What To Do When You Test COVID Positive When Traveling

It seems that the entire world is tired of staying home for over 2 years, and travel has returned with vengeance. In fact, airline ticket sales are at their all time high and hotel prices have skyrocketed this year. People are traveling abroad despite the confusing and constantly changing policies. For example, Europe now allows vaccinated travelers as long as their last shot was taken within 270 days. And USA still requires a negative COVID test result within a day of departure to the country.

With the rise in travel, no more masks or social distancing mandates, it is inevitable that you will encounter someone who has COVID-19 during your trip. On my recent flight from Atlanta to Aruba, there were people coughing (without covering their mouths) and there was no way for me to protect myself (yes, I had a mask on). Even though I was vaccinated and boosted, I probably caught the virus on the flight, or somewhere at the airport, because I tested positive during my stay in Curacao. Therefore, my 7-day long business trip turned into a 10-day long wellness and recovery stay.

Testing positive when traveling abroad means, you cannot leave the destination, and if you are an American citizen, you cannot travel back home. So what should you do if you test COVID positive when traveling abroad? Here are some tips based on my recent personal experience.

stay positive while traveling abroad
Colorful downtown Willemstad in Curacao.

Don’t Panic

The first and most important thing when you do test COVID positive is to not panic! It is hard when you are stuck abroad, not knowing where you will stay, when you will get home, and how you will deal with work and family responsibilities. Moreover, if you have symptoms, you may not be feeling so good. So, don’t cause yourself more anxiety, and don’t stress. Take a deep breath. Remember, this too shall pass. Make a plan of action. Talk to your close friends and family members. Discuss with your local contacts or hotel manager. And read this blog!

Seek Medical Attention

If you are having any COVID symptoms, such as high fever, cough, cold, chills, body aches, ask your hotel to call for a doctor immediately. When I started feeling a scratchy throat while traveling in Curacao, I first tried to self medicate, thinking it was probably just the air conditioning or change in weather. Two days later, I was lying in bed with 101 F fever, chills and sweats. The resort called the doctor on my request, who came to my room for only $200. He prescribed antibiotics that were included in the cost. This helped me recover quickly.

traveling to beach destination
Enjoy a quiet walk at the beach.

Self Care

At this point, I did not test positive for COVID, but had all the symptoms. My doctor advised me to drink lots of fluids, eat light food (soups and fruit), and rest. I always carry Vitamin C packets, my favorite Masala Chai powder, and a few over-the-counter medications (such as Ibuprofen) with me when I travel. Also, I purchased a few self testing COVID kits that came in handy. They were only $5 each at the pharmacy in Curacao.

It is very important to self isolate, rest, and wear a mask when you go outside. Since I was staying at a hotel by myself, I had no choice but to out to get food and medicine, so I wore a mask and kept distance from people.

Still, try to breathe fresh air by sitting at the balcony or taking a walk on the beach. Keep your mental health in check by talking to people on the phone, watching funny movies, and getting lots of sleep.

I had a great support system while in Curacao. The owner and manager of Terra Boutique Hotel were available 24 hours a day via WhatsApp. Every morning, they delivered breakfast to my room, comprising of fresh orange juice, tea, omelette, toast, fruits, and granola. My room was cleaned and sanitized daily. The kitchen at the hotel was well stocked with bottle water, tea and fresh tangerines, so I could stay hydrated. And they arranged for doctors, medicines, airport drop offs, as well as any request I had. Since I was traveling alone in a foreign country, it was calming to know that there were friendly and caring people I could count on whenever needed.

Often, you can get this kind of personal service only at smaller boutique hotels. The 300-room resort I stayed at previously offered no such help, and their reception desk rarely answered the phone.

restful sleep while traveling abroad
Relaxing room at Terra Boutique Hotel.

Test Regularly

Most travelers take their COVID test only 24 hours before flying out. If your test is positive, you cannot board your flight. The USA and few other countries still have this restriction. Most countries only check your COVID vaccination card. And the general protocol is that you have to isolate for 5-10 days before you are cleared to fly. Now, the problem with this rule is that your waiting time starts from the first time you tested positive, not the first day you had symptoms. Which means, in the best case scenarios, you can fly 4 days after your scheduled flight.

If you test regularly at a clinic, you will be able to detect the virus early on and your countdown will start earlier. For example, if you first tested positive 3 days before your flight, that will be your day 0, and you may only need to stay 2 extra days. Note that home test kits don’t apply. You have to test at a lab and obtain a written document showing the date of your test.

eat healthy food to combat COVID
Breakfast basket at Terra Boutique Hotel.

Call the Health Department

According to the CDC, you should self isolate for only 5 days, after which you can move about freely as you are no longer infectious. However, you also need to obtain a negative COVID test for air travel, or get a note from the doctor that you have fully recovered. The main problem with this rule is that you can test positive for COVID for weeks and months after you may have had it. Therefore, you may not be able to return home if you simply rely on test results.

So the only way to get around is to obtain a recovery letter from a local health authority. This can be a little complicated, as most doctors are not even authorized to give the letter. In Curacao, the doctor who saw me at the resort said that he was not allowed to write the recovery letters, and there were only 2 doctors on the island who could do it. I had to look them up, contact them individually, and because it was a long weekend, they were unavailable.

There are also many online healthcare companies who will give you the letter. You will need to fill out a form, pay a fee, and perhaps do a virtual consultation. The catch is they will only do it 10 days after your first positive test. You should have had no fever and recovered from all symptoms.

Because every destination has its only policy on who and when is authorized to give recovery letters, your best resource is the local health department or ministry of health and epidemiology. I had a phone consultation with the public health official, texted them my records, and they emailed me the letter within a few hours. This allowed me to travel internationally back to the US even though I was testing COVID positive.

Some travelers revert to the US Embassay for this information, but they are often not able to help.

what to do when you get COVID
View from my balcony at Mangrove Corendon Curacao Resort.

Carry Good Travel Insurance

During this time of uncertainty, it is more important than ever to carry comprehensive travel insurance that covers sickness resulting from pandemics. I have Allianz Travel insurance which covers cost of hotel, meals, flights, doctors, etc. for me and my caretaker (if I was traveling with someone who had to stay back). Make sure to save every receipt, test results, and doctor’s records. Having this protection will cause less stress as you don’t need to worry about the extra bills you encounter abroad, and can focus on just getting better.

7 trips that put families in close contact with local wildlife

Snorkel with Whale Sharks in Cancun

Fulfill your family’s ultimate once-in-a-lifetime bucket list adventure by taking a dip with whale sharks – the biggest (and most friendly) fish in the world! From May to September, families staying at sister properties CasaMagna Marriott Cancun Resort and JW Marriott Cancun Resort & Spa can embark by boat to snorkel alongside these magnificent gentle giants where the Caribbean Sea meets the Gulf of Mexico. Though they measure up to 40 feet long and weigh in at 15 tons, whale sharks feed exclusively on plankton and are totally harmless to humans. Added perk: guests at the Cancun Marriott Resorts can check out a GoPro HER04 for the day to capture unbelievable underwater family photo ops.

Book your stay now with TripAdvisor

Explore the Costa Rican rainforest

For an unforgettable nature-filled vacation, families should head to Tabacón Grand Spa Thermal Resort, spread across 900 acres of natural rainforest reserve in Costa Rica’s northern region — an area responsible for 6% of the entire world’s biodiversity. With more than 500 species of local plant and wildlife on property, kiddos just might spot a coatimundis, toucans or howler monkeys. Families can have nearby animal encounters with activities like horseback riding, ziplining through the trees, rainforest tours and more. As an added bonus, the carbon neutral resort offers an eco-friendly environment that teaches kids about sustainability and how to protect the area’s natural resources.

Book your stay now with TripAdvisor

Swim with sea turtles in Barbados

SUP dude? For an unforgettable animal encounter, families will love Colony Club‘s stand-up paddle board (SUP) and turtle swim excursion. Starting out on the white, warm sands of Barbados’ renowned beach, families will paddle out to The Lone Star Restaurant, one of the local, turtle hangouts, and dive into the crystal blue waters to get up-close-and-personal with the island’s friendliest marine animals – the once-endangered population of hawksbill and leatherback turtles.


Hangout with reptiles in Curacao

Situated on a 27 acre plantation of rare natural preserve, the Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort in Curacao offers an island-within-an-island feel with some of the most varied and exotic flora and fauna in the Caribbean. Through the resort’s eco-friendly, locally inspired Camp Arawak program, kids will love the chance to feed the resort’s resident iguanas. Plus, in between watersport adventures like snorkeling and paddleboarding, families can observe hawksbill turtles nesting along the resort’s private beach every July through September.

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Paddleboard with Dolphins in Jupiter, Florida

Hotel guests staying at the oceanfront resort can head to the nearby Blueline Surf & Paddle Co., and work up a sweat navigating the mangroves of the Intracoastal Waterways on a 90-minute paddleboard eco tour, where you might see manatees, dolphins and sea turtles. Complimentary beach cruisers are also available for resort guests to get the heart pumping as they explore the charming, seaside town’s iconic landmarks, including the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse and the Loggerhead Marine Life Center.  

Encounter sea lions, blue footed boobies and penguins galore in The Galapagos Islands

The Galapagos Islands are home to some of the most unique species in the world, and Ecoventura’s fleet of eco-friendly cruises brings families face to face with daily excursions through the archipelago’s diverse islands. From swimming alongside sea lions (and plenty of curious sea lion pups) to watching the Blue Footed Boobies shake their feet in a mating dance, snorkeling with penguins off the islands of Santa Cruz and Isabella. In a destination as pristine and protected as the Galapagos, wildlife wanders freely and fearlessly in the islands, meaning parents and kids are in for the trip of a lifetime.


Kayak through a bioluminescent bay in Puerto Rico

A kayaking tour through the mangrove forrest of the Laguna Grande takes families to a secret hideaway — Fajardo’s bioluminescent bay. A short drive from San Juan, the magical waters are filled with millions of prehistoric organisms that when touched, leave a breathtaking glow in the moonlight. The excursion, organized by the family friendly San Juan Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino, invites families to learn the history and science behind the twinkling trail in the bio bay while enjoying a ride under the stars.

Book your stay now through TripAdvisor

Feed alpacas and llamas in Cusco

The colorful city of Cusco and the surrounding Sacred Valley of the Incas is the perfect destination for adventurous families looking for a rich dose of culture. A short drive from the city center, Awana Kancha – a llama, alpaca and vicuña farm — brings families face to face with the region’s most loved furry animals in all shapes and colors. Upon arrival, guests are greeted by the resident animals eagerly awaiting to be fed giant handfuls of grass. The interactive feedings are followed by textile weaving demonstrations by the local women keeping the tradition alive. After a day long day of adventure, families can relax in  the historic JW Marriott El Convento Cusco, a 16th century convent turned hotel whose lobby is frequented by alpacas and llamas.
~ Contributed by Julia Cavalieri, account coordinator at Diamond PR. Follow Julia on Twitter @diamondpr

Photos tour of Washington Slagbaai National Park

Who knew that a fifth of the island of Bonaire is a nationally protected nature sanctuary? Washington Slagbaai National Park was established in 1969 and covers an area of 5.643 hectares. Once a private property of Julio Caesar “Boy” Herrera, the land was sold to the government of Netherland Antilles with the promise of not developing it commercially. As a result, this beautiful area is home to protected plant and wildlife, now maintained by the non profit organization, STINAPA Bonaire.

How the park got its name is an interesting story. In the early 1920’s the land was a private plantation named “America” and the main entrance (now visitor center) was the spot where the workers came to receive their wages and apply for work. This house came to be known as the capital of America – Washington, as symbol of decision making and prosperity.

Washington Slagbaai National Park merits a day long visit, specially if you really want to enjoy all its benefits. It is possible to do a driving tour of the park in less than 2 hours, stopping to see pristine beaches, caves, and flamingoes in their natural habitats. If you pack a picnic and gear, you can spend the day hiking, walking, snorkeling, diving, swimming and bird watching. There is only one restaurant/ inn inside the park but it’s not open year round.

The park is a photographer’s dream as one can spend countless hours capturing barely moving iguanas and elegant flamingo parties. Then there are tall cactuses and giant windmills. The landscape feels more like Arizona, then a Caribbean island, but no words can capture what you see yourself.

Here are some images I took at Washington Slagbaai National Park.

The visitor center houses a small museum that gives an overview of the island of Bonaire, especially its flora and fauna, its pioneer citizens, what they cultivated and tools they used. Pick up maps and cold drinks before heading inside for the day. Tickets are $25 per person.

visitors center Washington Slagbaai National Park

There is abundant wildlife inside the park, including iguanas, lizards, wild goats and 203 species of birds. If you look closely, you will see how the aloe plant attaches itself to the goat and transports itself for pollination.

goats at Washington Slagbaai National Park

The geology of the island is also visible inside the park. You will see dark rock formations, remains of solidified volcanic ashes as well as light colored coral rocks. The oldest dating sediments found in the area are 100 million years old. High winds and waves have caused erosion of the rocks, forming interesting patterns of erosion.

erosions at Washington Slagbaai National Park


The Subí Brandaris Trail leads visitors to the highest peak on Bonaire, 241 meters (784 ft.) high.  On a clear day you can see the island of Curaçao (46 km (30 miles) away from Bonaire, and, on exceptionally clear days, the Santa Ana Hill in the Paraguaná Peninsula of Venezuela, and the mountain range south of Puerto Cabello, Venezuela.

highest peak at Washington Slagbaai National Park

The west shore of the Park has many beaches where one can enjoy snorkeling and swimming. The dive sites are great as the coral around the area is well protected and not crowded.

Washington Slagbaai National Park

The park is one of the best places on the island for observing birds, due to its remoteness and also the many types of habitat that includes salt-flats, fresh water wells, beaches, limestone plateaus by the shoreline and thorny forests. Flamingos at Washington Slagbaai National Park

Dutch influence is evident with these windmills, harvesting clean wind energy for the island. Bonaire is very environmentally conscious and generates most of its own energy.


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